Not many people would like to go to see their dentists voluntarily to have their teeth scraped and cleaned regularly. They visit their dentists only when there is toothache or any discomfort in their teeth.
Perhaps people should start visiting their dentists regularly because a recent study, which was presented on November 13, 2011 at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Orlando, Florida, reported that regular professional cleaning of teeth could help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
In the study, researchers from Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan looked at records of 102,620 patients, who did not have a history of heart attack or stroke. These participants were followed for an average of 7 years.
Their findings showed that 226 out of 51,108 people who had their teeth cleaned at least once suffered a heart attack, while 1,168 had a stroke. For those who never had their teeth cleaned, 507 out of 51,512 had a heart attack and 2,480 suffered a stroke.
People who had their teeth scraped and cleaned by dentists more than once every 2 years had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who had never had a dental cleaning.
People who had a cleaning less than once every 2 years had a 13 percent lower risk of heart attack and a 9 percent lower risk of a stroke compared to those who never had one.
According to researchers, participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year have better protection from heart disease and stroke. It appears that professional tooth scaling tends to lower inflammation-causing bacterial growth that could lead to heart disease or stroke.
Nevertheless, the study did not adjust for heart attack and stroke risk factors like weight, smoking and race, as these data were not included in the Taiwan National Health insurance database (source of information used in the analysis).
Researchers also stressed that more studies are required to help explain how tooth scaling helps improve heart and blood vessel function and to see if it also lowers the risk of other illnesses like cancer and immune diseases.